That's a very good question. Each year I set a variety of goals. Some years I have a huge list, others just a goal or two, but regardless, at least one involves weight loss and/or exercise. You'd think after setting this goal for so many years I'd have it down by now, but I'm kind of a slow learner in this area.
The question right now is, what are my 2011 goals? I've been thinking about it off and on all week and still don't have a definitive list. I have ideas and wishes and wants but no list.
I think part of me is hoping I'm not the only one that sets goals each year only to get to the end of the year and find that several or most were not achieved. The thing is, at work, I'm great at getting things done. I have a list, I work through it, and move on to the next thing. I can even get side tracked and still manage to accomplish what I need to. So why doesn't this translate to my personal life?
Don't get me wrong, it isn't like I don't do things or accomplish things, it just usually isn't what I've "officially" outlined as the plan. So is it better to not have a plan and just let it happen or have a plan and know that it may not all happen? Anyone, anyone?
So my goal is to have a list by end of day tomorrow. Sounds like a worthy goal. That way I can say I accomplished one of my 2011 goals.
Here's to a wonderful year in 2011 full of love, happiness, and time with the ones I love.
Happy New Year!
That's a very good question. Each year I set a variety of goals. Some years I have a huge list, others just a goal or two, but regardless, at least one involves weight loss and/or exercise. You'd think after setting this goal for so many years I'd have it down by now, but I'm kind of a slow learner in this area.
Christmas is officially over, but not the fun. We spend so much time getting ready for the holiday and then use the week after to recover and enjoy time away from work. Over the past few weeks our counters have acquired a variety of treats and snacks - some delivered by loving friends and neighbors, others made because the holidays wouldn't be complete without them. Regardless, I have eaten more goodies in the past weeks than: a) I should, b) I have in months, and c) that my jeans are oh so tight. But I LOVE them.
Food isn't the only indulgence, it's staying up late and sleeping in, plus more movies than I've watched in six months crammed into a week. There are the new releases like Tangled and True Grit or the movies that are almost out of the theaters like Secretariat. And if that isn't enough, there are DVDs! And of course, there are treats to go with the movies - popcorn, milk duds, Almond Roca, and more.
Life is great!! I know that in a week, I'll be adjusting things drastically in my life, but for now, I'm indulging and enjoying it.
What a wonderful Christmas! We got up at the negotiated hour of 8:00 am (some of us want to sleep in and others wake up early no matter what), checked out our stockings, exchanged gifts, had yummy homemade cinnamon rolls, did a quick cleaning, started prepping for dinner, exchanged a few more gifts while chatting with friends and family, and then enjoyed a marvelous meal. After a bit of relaxing and stretching (to let the food settle) we chatted some more, played a bit on the Wii, and then ate some more. It was a great day.
One thing that we added several years ago to our Christmas experience was having our friends and their children spend the night on Christmas night. Some years we have played Wii for several hours, other times we've watched a movie, but this year, it was spent in a variety of ways, but playing games on the new iPads was definitely popular. When everyone's eyes were starting to droop, since several were up past their normal bed time, we settled in for a long winter's nap.
This morning, everyone slept in and then we enjoyed breakfast, watched The Spoken Word, and then spent the day relaxing in our pj's (or something equally comfy). It is a wonderful way to spend the day after the craziness of getting ready for Christmas. We chatted, ate, printed pictures for a quick Christmas album, ate some more, played games on the iPads, ate a little more, and basically just enjoyed each other's company. Being in pjs definitely makes the day - because who wants to do your hair and makeup when you just want to be lazy??
I'm so glad we added this tradition to our holiday experience. It's the perfect way to start a week away from work.
And what a wonderful day. Today is one of those mixed days - cleaning and finishing those last minute things, plus starting foods for tomorrow's dinner. But it is also the start of the celebrating. Dinner at our house with J's family, followed by the children sharing their talents as they act out parts in the Nativity story while the adults narrate and sing a few hymns. And finally, the thing we've planned for all year - the White Elephant gift exchange.
I don't really know how this got started, but it is a riot. There are gifts that keep on giving (like the Simpson boxer's that J's mom brought as her gift to the last Christmas Eve she was alive for - now the recipient takes a picture of themselves wearing the boxers and includes it in the package), presents for the children (or child at heart), and packages with bribery so that someone will want to keep it (usually a gift card of some sort). This year was actually pretty tame as White Elephant gift exchanges go. Not a lot of swapping back and forth until the end and not as many knock your socks off, can't quit laughing because the gift is so hilarious as we've seen in the past, but still a fun time was had by all. At some point I'll take a picture of the fine gift I ended up with. I'm sure it will be used in a future exchange :)
After the festivities wrap up and we put the house back to semi-normal, we each head to bed (after taking our turn as "Santa" and filling each other's socks. At this point, the house is quiet and peaceful and I use this time to turn my thoughts to Christ's birth. Most years I read the account in Luke 2 from the Bible. This year I changed it up a bit and watched several videos I found on the LDS church's Christmas web site (christmas.lds.org). The videos were wonderful reminders of the true reason for the season. Some included music and other's were simply testimonies shared by various people regarding the role Christ plays in their lives. It was a beautiful and touching experience to watch and listen to the words and music in the peaceful comfort of my bedroom.
I am so grateful for Christ's willingness to come to earth and for his later sacrifice of his life. I am especially thankful for the chance we have each year to worship his birth. I am also grateful for the fun times we have celebrating the season with family and friends and am truly blessed. My holiday season is filled with so many traditions, love, and joy.
But not just by the chimney, they're on the TV, above the french doors, along the window sills, and at the end of tables. Stockings in our house are more for decoration than function. Although we do have stockings that "Santa" fills on Christmas morning, but those typically are not hung up but are brought out on Christmas Eve. We lay the stockings at our designated lounging places in the family room with a towel next to them so they can be covered after they are filled.
I have two stockings now - my Odie (Garfield's dog friend) sock that says "The More the Merrier" on it and has a stuffed animal version of Odie peeking out the top and then K gave me a cross-stitched sock that she has worked on for the past 10 years (not the whole time, but off and on). J has had a cross-stitched sock that her sister made for her several years ago and so we decided to hang her sock and mine on the fireplace mantel. I LOVE my new sock - it is stunning!
|Isn't it beautiful?? The detail is amazing!|
As for what we find in our socks, it is usually practical items - hair dye, shower gel, socks, lotion, lip stuff, etc. Mixed in are some fun things like earrings, a favorite candy, and other non-practical items. J always has an orange in her sock, it was something she grew up with and is still a part of her Christmas tradition.
Christmas morning begins with going through our socks, then breakfast, and exchanging gifts. Its an important part of our holiday traditions, plus, it gives everyone a chance to wake up a little.
Did I mention how much I LOVE my new stocking?? Here's a close up and now I'll be done with how amazing it is :)
Two days left and just a few things to do. The best part, I don't have to juggle work and home activities - I'm officially on vacation until the new year! So what is left to do?
- Wash the dogs (it wouldn't do to have smelly dogs for such an occasion and they want to be beautiful too)
- Buy the last gift card
- Put away all the creative stuff I've brought out the past few weeks (which really means, clean my room)
- Print pictures for K's dog album
- Clean the house
- Make salads for Christmas dinner (they have to be made in advance so they can set up)
- Decide on white elephant gifts for Christmas Eve party
- Make cheese ball for Christmas Eve party
The great thing about being at this point is that I can enjoy the season and not feel like I'm running around like mad woman. It's a wonderful feeling - I might have to try this again :)
I admit, the decorations in our house are a little over the top. But it is also one of the parts of Christmas that brings me the greatest joy. I love decorating! Looking for the perfect ornament or decor, finding just the right spot for it, having a vision and seeing it all come together, and then, sitting back and enjoying the sights. Pretty much every inch of the common parts of the house are decorated in some way, including the outside (not every inch, but it is still decorated).
The kitchen table is transformed to a beautiful red, green, and white coordination of plates, place mats, runners, cookie jar centerpiece, and a couple of accent pieces. The counter tops are lined with plates (standing upright, not with food), kitchen Santas, and other festive items. The china hutch is transformed - everything that normally is displayed is carefully packed away and Christmas treasures are carefully placed on each shelf. I could go on and on, but it would take pages. Funny thing, the year we finished the basement we joked that we had to because we had run out of room to decorate upstairs (that's only partially true, but it did provide some additional decorating options).
Of course the trees, village, and nativity display are the focal points for the locations or rooms in which they are housed with many supporting decorations on the walls and other surfaces.
Each year we say we aren't going to get anything new for next year, but then Christmas time approaches and the stores put out their new things and we lose all self-control. I mean, who can resist??
I love our home, but there is something about the Christmas decorations that makes it extra special. So until I'm too old to haul the boxes upstairs, the show must go on! Deck the halls with.... just about anything, as long as it is a Christmas decoration.
Let the Tour Begin
Welcome to the tour. Please, no flash photography and refrain from asking questions during the tour. And no food or drinks.
|Santa perched atop the tree|
|Garland, lights, and bows on the railing|
|Red & White tree downstairs; decorated table; reindeer rug|
|Downstairs tree next to nativity display|
|Nativities on display|
|Village in the front room with the main tree|
|The front room tree (before the village is added)|
|Even the Bloodhound table participates in the festivities|
|Without any presents, the Christmas tree is the perfect place for a nap|
That concludes our tour. I hope you enjoyed it. And, please don't judge, we all have our addictions, some just aren't visible or posted on our blogs :)
Are you looking for ideas for handmade gifts that you can make and give this week? This morning I was on Good Things Utah and shared some ideas for several quick gifts.
Here's the link: Good Things Utah Message Board and Ornaments
The great thing about these gift ideas are how easy they are to customize for anyone on your list.
I hope you enjoy these and that your Christmas is full of happiness and joy.
|Write on/wipe off Message Board|
|Alcohol Inked ornaments|
Remember being a kid and pouring through the catalog to see what you wanted to put on your list for Santa Claus? I'd fold down the pages for each possibility and then come back and narrow it down to those things I REALLY wanted. I don't really remember writing to Santa, but I do remember going to see him in the little house behind the hardware/lumber store. It was red with a scalloped, white trim. It was just big enough for his grand chair. There usually wasn't a line - it's not like we lived in a big city or something, so we'd park, walk up, sit on his lap and give him the official list. No pictures, but definitely candy canes. Some years it was a full size cane and others it was a miniature one. Once Santa knew, there was no need to worry - he had the list.
The funny thing is, I can't really remember what I put on any of those lists, except the year I asked for a bike. And honestly, I think the only reason I remember that year is because there's a picture of me finding it on Christmas morning.
I'm past the age for sitting on Santa's lap, but there's still a kid in me that loves thinking about my Christmas list. It isn't big, but I definitely have a list. But I also have a big list with everyone that I'm shopping for and the gifts I'm getting them. This list is probably agonized over more than my personal list is. And yes, I still go through catalogs and magazines and ads and turn down pages for possible gifts to get and then go back and narrow it down to what I think will be the perfect gift for that person. It's part of the holiday experience - making the list and checking it twice. Although I rarely find anyone who's been naughty, just those that are nice.
What would the holidays be without a few favorite treats? Okay, so maybe it's more than a few, but it is a wonderful time to indulge. There's the fudge (no nuts please), popcorn balls, sugar cookies, corn pop candy, mint M&Ms, homemade caramels, and mincemeat pie. Then there's the meals that must be made. Homemade pizza, chips and dip, cheeseballs and crackers, shrimp, and more for Christmas Eve. Then the feast of all feasts on Christmas day! Prime Rib! Oh how amazing the house smells as it bakes to perfection. Plus there's scallop potatoes, frog eye salad, apple salad, homemade rolls, ham (for those that are not fans of the beast), green bean casserole, brussel sprouts in a decadent sauce (which still doesn't it make it worth it to eat the brussel sprouts), and then dessert.
It's no wonder the number one goal for the new year is to lose weight - I think I'm adding pounds just thinking about this. But, the holidays wouldn't seem quite right if at least a few of these foods weren't part of the plan. Some of these are recipes handed down through the years and others were recent adoptees.
Life is good and having so many delightful things to eat is a great reminder of just how good it is.
Stress (unfortunately, but can be controlled!)
Relaxation (after everything is done)
Gratitude for the Savior's birth
When I was young (as in a child), most of the gifts I gave were handmade. We had a set of Childcraft books and one was the Make and Do book. I regularly used this volume in my quest for the perfect gifts to make. I don't remember all the gift ideas pulled from this book, but I do remember the pencil holder (made from an orange juice can covered with macaroni and painted gold) and woven place mats (made from weaving strips of paper together). I wish I could remember some of the others. But I very vividly remember making a list of the people I needed gifts for and then going page by page to see what my options were and then narrowing it down to what I was sure would be the best gift ever!
As an adult, I still make a few gifts, but not nearly as many. Each year I have grand visions of things that I can make but they seldom happen as time slips away. But I still feel that same excitement in shopping and finding the perfect gift. Because after all, it's not about what the gift is, but how it is given - with love.
In the car, while cleaning carpets, quietly at work, at church, and pretty much anywhere else I can sing a Christmas carol. For most people, Halloween means trick-or-treaters and candy, but for me it means it's time to load the Christmas music on my iPod! I confess, I have about 30 songs I keep on my iPod year round - my favorites, but the real playlist comes out on November 1.
Christmas music evokes so many emotions. It makes me happy and gets my toes a tapping especially when I hear Wizards in Winter by Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Tears come to my eyes when I sing along with Mary Let Me Hold Her Baby by Michael McLean. When The Secret of Christmas by SHeDaisy plays I stop and think about how I treat others and if I carry the Christmas spirit with me throughout the year or not. I could go on and on.
But by far, my favorite song is O Holy Night especially when sung by Josh Groban, but I also enjoy Lonestar, Thurl Bailey, and Martina McBride's versions as well. I love this song so much that if I should happen to pass away in a season that is appropriate for this request, I have asked that O Holy Night be one of the songs at my service (I actually have it listed as a song, but some felt it might be weird if it wasn't near the holidays and so I compromised :) ). It has gorgeous music with lovely harmonies (I sing Alto so it's all about the harmony) and the text beautifully portrays the purpose of Christ's coming to earth and the night he was born.
Christmas music speaks to my soul and brightens my holidays in ways that words cannot express. Thank you to those that compose and perform these incredible carols that make my holidays complete.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, how lovely are thy branches....
You'd think this would be my favorite Christmas carol with my love of Christmas trees, but it isn't. But I do love Christmas trees!! I don't know when exactly I decided that Christmas trees were meant to be color coordinated, but about 20 years ago I bought decorations for a red and white tree. This was also the first year we had our fake tree (we still had a live tree, but it was the hodge podge tree). I made bows from red ribbon, bought red and white matte ornaments and a few little, shiny red ornaments, added some gold bead garland, and voila, my first "prissy" tree (that's what it was dubbed since it was color coordinated). It wasn't the most beautifully decorated tree, but I truly loved it.
Two years later, I decided we needed a new color scheme and so I bought purple and gold ornaments, made gold bows that had gold bells hanging from them, and bought a couple boxes of small, clear ornaments that I filled with shiny, purple shred, purple bead garland, and purple cellophane (each ornament was tied at the top with a purple bow). Now I had really arrived in the Christmas tree world - each year I could CHOOSE which color combination I wanted.
And yet, a few years later the need for another color came knocking and so I added green - I found several ornament sets that include matte and shiny balls in forest green and sage green, plus a few white ornaments with snowy, white trees made from glitter on them to go with the white and gold ornaments I already had. Oh, life was good!
Now keep in mind that through all these years this tree was still referred to as the prissy tree, but I didn't mind, it was MY prissy tree :)
Jump forward a few years (four years ago). K and J were at a local furniture store that during Christmas time has amazing Christmas decorations. I don't know what happened, but they fell in love with a "prissy" tree and decided that we needed to have that look. Then they went to another store and there was the perfect tree with earthy colors such as orange, red, gold, browns, and more. But our trees were already decorated for the year, so instead we threw ourselves into the task of buying decorations for next year's tree. The other difference was that the decorations were not all balls, but were instead a large variety of shapes and sizes, that when combined created a stunning tree. We talked to the decorators at the furniture store and they shared some wonderful tips so that by the following Christmas, we had a new tree, new ornaments, and a plan.
I have to admit I was scared to death. What if I couldn't create the tree that we had in our minds?? But after hours of studying tree decorating and looking at trees in some of our favorite stores, I threw my heart and soul into the project and was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. I had managed to create the tree that we loved so much in the stores, only it was ours!
Since that Christmas three years ago, we haven't looked back. Trees that in the past were totally acceptable now have higher decorating expectations. But it's so fun! It's fun to decorate, fun to admire, and something I don't think I'll ever tire of doing. Christmas would not be complete without a Christmas tree (or two or three or.....).
I wish our presents were all wrapped up, but the gift wraps at our house take on a life of their own. If it were up to me, everything would be in a bag with beautiful tissue paper poking it's head out of the top. But K has ideas of her own regarding gift presentation.
First, she believes that children (that means anyone that is not out of high school) prefer to unwrap a gift rather than pull something out of a bag. So unless it is a shape that cannot be easily wrapped, then wrapping paper is the gift wrap of choice.
Second, all gifts not only get a coordinated gift tag (sticker or hanging variety) but a small decor item as well. Most of these are found in craft stores and were designed to go on miniature Christmas trees. Others are a little larger. There are snowmen, santas, snowflakes with and without glitter, acrylic candies, miniature presents, deer, and more. She spends almost as much time picking these items out as she does the gift, but its what she does (kind of like I do Christmas trees).
J and I assist in wrapping presents, but only those that are not leaving the house (so the ones for each other) or that are box shaped or can go in a gift bag. We're reminded to include a decor item on each gift and high praise is given when the wrap, tag, and decor item all coordinate.
The funny thing is, it doesn't matter that the recipient is going to rip open the gift - she's totally fine with that. As long as it looks beautiful when it is handed to them, that's what matters.
So on days when wrapping happens, every flat surface is used but the end result is stunning.
What would the holidays be without traditions, the things we do every year? Incomplete, that's for sure! And when asked what we do every year, a list quickly comes to mind:
- Decorate the house by Thanksgiving (or the weekend after)
- K's Christmas party at the house
- Making graham cracker houses or cookies with the Wheatley's
- The family white elephant gift exchange on Christmas Eve
- Christmas dinner at our house with family and friends
- Watching Christmas movies like Elf, The Christmas Story, The Muppet Christmas Carol, and more
We have some wonderful friends that have been second parents/family for more years than I care to count. One of the things we did each year was go to their house and decorate for Christmas. Some years we'd help bring in the beautifully flocked tree and other years it was already in its place of honor in the front room window. We'd discuss what the color theme was for the year (red or blue/green or gold) and then proceed to bring up boxes of lights, ornaments, and decorations while we enjoyed Christmas music and "Dad" headed for the TV downstairs to enjoy a football game.We each had our assignments - I did the tree, K and J worked on the nativity and then moved on to help D with the other decorations, and "Mom" would hand me ornaments for the tree after carefully applying just the right length hook. It usually took a couple of hours and once the tree skirt was on and the train set up under the tree, we'd get Dad from the basement. And without fail, he'd come up the stairs, round the corner, and say "Oh my, isn't it beautiful" and we knew our job was complete. Then we'd head outside to admire the view through the window and after a round of oohs and ahhs we'd head into the house to wrap up the experience with pizza, root beer, and lots of chatting. It was a wonderful experience.
Well, time has marched on and their health is to the point that they now reside in a care facility - luckily still together. But this year there will be no decorating of the house or Dad exclaiming Oh my! We'll still go and visit and chat and we have plans for a few decorations, but no tree or nativity because their little room can't handle the decor. And so I look back fondly on those years of bonding and decorating with love in my heart and tears in my eyes as I realize that some traditions don't last forever, but luckily the love and memories do.
I am so grateful to this wonderful family for taking us in so many years ago and making us a part of their family. For the chance to serve them in such a small way by decorating for them each Christmas. This year won't be the same and a part of my holiday season will be missing, but I would never trade the past or the memories and love I have in my heart from this small, yet monumental Christmas tradition.
|Our picture together last year after decorating (I'm taking the picture)|
The past few years I've turned into a bit of a photo bug. I carry my camera in my purse so I have it whenever I spot something I want to capture. It's been fun! When it comes to Christmas, I realized I've really gone nuts with the pictures. Three years ago I had a few pictures of our new front room tree, a few decorations, and the opening of presents. Last year, more photos of the front room tree plus the new red and white tree. These photos include closeups of my favorite ornaments from a variety of angles. I also captured several of the snow, the outside lights in the snow, and more snow. Oh, and I took a few of the new mantle decor. And of course, the opening of presents.
That brings us to this year. I took more pictures of our front room tree and the red and white tree, plus the two hodge podge trees, the nativities, the village, and random other decorations. I have captured the main parts of our house in a photo one way or another. There are a few things I haven't photographed, but there's still time so you never know what might be caught by my camera.
The thing I realized is even though we put out the same decorations and trees, we usually add something new. And with the things I'm decorating, I like to do it from scratch. I might look at last year's pictures for a general reminder or inspiration, but how I organize or display things is all new. For me, this is part of the fun of decorating - deciding where to put things and feeling creative in the process. Plus, then it all looks new again to me.
So at night when I sit and look at the lights and decorations, I find that I notice new things and I never tire of enjoying the view. It soothes my soul and brings joy to my heart.
|My favorite ornament on the front room tree.|
I'm not sure why, but this year my stress level feels a lot lower than it typically does during the Christmas season. No, I haven't finished my shopping. My packages are not shipped. I've barely wrapped what presents I have bought. But I have managed to spend about an hour each night sitting in the family room with just the Christmas lights on. Sometimes I've read, other times I've listened to music, and most of the time I'm on the computer. But it is quiet and peaceful and the lights are beautiful.
I don't know that this time to myself each night has made the difference, but for years I have tried to do this and finally I am and it is absolutely wonderful! At some point the panic may kick in, but for now I know the things I need to do and the time frame for when they need to be accomplished and I can live with this knowledge. So I'm going to enjoy this season and bask in the lights and decorations that I love adding to our home.
Let the lists wait while I enjoy the important things - friends, family, and the wonderful feeling of the Christmas season!
Growing up, our family and my Uncle's family would head to Grandma's house for Christmas Eve. We'd load the car with the gifts we would exchange that evening and make the 30 minute drive. We'd have Hamburger Royales for dinner (a hamburger patty with a slice of cheese covered in chili and a sprinkling of oyster crackers - no hamburger bun, all in a bowl) and then gather around the Christmas tree and exchange gifts. There were four of us cousins most of the time, unless my Aunt was visiting that year with her family, and we were pretty close in age. At Grandma's house, we opened presents from everyone - cousins, parents, siblings, aunts, and uncles. We were pretty much guaranteed that one gift from Grandma would be new pajamas. We always tried them on and then wore them home so we could go straight from the car to bed. Once the gifts were all opened, we'd pile back in the car and head for home. On Christmas morning, the only gifts were those from Santa and whatever was in our stocking.
So imagine my surprise when as an adult I discovered that most people don't open presents on Christmas Eve, but wait until Christmas morning!! Luckily I've been surrounded by people that understood how hard this was to wait and allowed me to open one gift on Christmas Eve, but I am proud to say that I am past that now and have been for several years.
Now our Christmas Eve gift-giving consists of a White Elephant gift exchange. And let me tell you, it is a blast! We spend most of the year scouting the perfect gift. And truth be told, we have a pretty good stash of possible options, but still end up buying one or two as the exchange date approaches. And because it is family, the gifts tend to get a little crazier than those typically seen, but it provides stories to tell for months and years to come.
I wouldn't trade my childhood Christmas activities and I love what we do now. I guess it is good to grow up and try new things, as long as the memories of Christmas' past are around to enjoy.
As November approaches I start looking at the calendar to plan the month (yes, you read that correctly, November). I figure out where Thanksgiving is and then count backwards to make sure that the carpets and house are cleaned in time to start decorating and be finished by Thanksgiving. For me, its all about the decorating. Once that is done, then we can sit back and enjoy the season.
I think because I don't have children, I don't do the December countdown to Christmas, but instead the countdown to when I can turn on the Christmas lights. I do remember getting my first chocolate Advent calendar - I was in college and thoroughly loved opening a door each day and eating the chocolate. And I love looking at Advent calendars and have to hold myself back from making some of the really cool paper crafted versions.
But for now, counting down to Christmas is more about the activities we do rather than the number of days left until the 25th. And it works!
It's funny how you have a certain picture in your mind of how something will turn out. And how often does that really happen? I'd have to say, not very often. But even so, it is still so worth dreaming and coming up with a plan and putting hope out there.
As the Christmas season approaches, I have grand plans for what I want to do - make several gifts for people, send out handmade cards, packages for family in California sent early, and so on. In reality, the two sewing projects I had planned for this year are not started and I'm pretty sure one will not get made and the other is on the maybe list. No cards are made and well, that's on the maybe list too. And those packages to California....what really constitutes early?? Earlier than last year?? Early in the week?? Laugh if you will, but this is the logic that runs through my head.
But, if I stop and look around, I see our house beautifully decorated with time in the evenings to relax and enjoy the lighted decor. I have time at home right now, instead of traveling for work. I have time planned with friends and loved ones to do the activities that make this season meaningful and memorable.
So while all the things that I had envisioned in my wee brain may not come to life, my life is good and happy and I am content. And that's what this season is all about - doing and being with those you love and making memories and sharing joy.
Perfection will always be there, but time marches on and people and opportunities may not exist next year. And so, I will embrace what is reality and let go of the dream (or at least lessen my grip on it) so that I can enjoy Christmas and the many blessings it offers.
Each year in about October I start thinking "I should send Christmas cards this year." This year I actually have a stamp that would be fun for cards. And here it is the first week of December and no cards are made, let alone sent.
Why the card dilemma? Because I feel like I have to make them if I'm going to send them. I mean really, I can't send some store bought card with all those supplies in my craft room waiting to be used! And so, I can't remember the last time I sent Christmas cards.
The thing is, it isn't that I don't want to keep in touch or that I don't want to make cards, it's a time and priority thing. But I'm not one of those that includes a letter in my cards - after all, I don't have a ton of family stories to share from the year. But I know that my family and friends would probably love getting a card from me.
So, no commitments at this time, but honestly, I do still have time. But I wouldn't hold your breath cause you might pass out before you get the card :)
Sending my love and Christmas wishes (just in case :) )
Winter White - that's the color that greets me most mornings, but today it was closer to Foggy Gray, which had me hoping that it was snowing. But alas, it was not. But the cold and moisture from the snow created a fog-like, cloudiness that wrapped the mountains in a fluffy blanket. Even though it wasn't as cold as usual (19 degrees) the extra moisture in the air produced an icy film over the exterior of my car creating a delicate pattern that reminded me of a lace doily. Beauty found!
As I crested Point of the Mountain on my way home from work, I caught a glimpse of the first haze layer of the season. Not only is it an ugly brownish color, it messes with the air quality causing many to curse the cold, winter weather. But the haze has a bright side to it - colorful sunsets. And so as I drove, I watched the western sky turn a lovely pinkish-orange and then fade to a purplish hue before giving way to darkness. More beauty found!
And so ends another winter day in December, with hope for a Winter White day in the near future, which will produce more beauty.
I joined a class called Journal Your Christmas. It's all about capturing your Christmas memories. The gal who runs the class posts a journaling prompt as well as photo ideas each day. Those participating create a journal, whether it is small, big, printed, digital, or a combination of things. And you can do as little or as much as you want (which is perfect for me).
I think I'll use my blog as a means of recording my journaling. That way when I have a little more time, I can make the actual book or not, whatever suits my fancy :)
The first day (today) is about the manifesto - what is the plan. Here is the manifesto provided by the class.
My goal for this project is to put into words the experiences and things we do during this wonderful season. I want a visual way to remember things and not just by going through my folders of photos, but in one place with written memories.
I'm excited for this adventure. Here's to making memories!
This past Monday I had the opportunity to be on Good Things Utah doing a segment on Neighborhood Gifts. I had so much fun thinking of all the different ideas that it was hard to narrow it down, so I did two - Holiday Bread Wrap and Stamped Notepad.
Here's the link to the episode: Decorative Wraps for Your Holiday Baked Goods
Part of the fun in doing these segments is shopping for product. I cruised Roberts Crafts for about a half hour picking up various products and putting them back until I decided on papers from My Mind's Eye and SEI. Then I found the perfect pearl brads from American Crafts. This project comes together quickly and the accessory sheet from My Mind's Eye has plenty of options for several wraps.
The stamped notepads are fun because you can customize them based on the recipient. I used stamps I had in my stash, but there are plenty of options in the stores if you need an excuse to buy something new. They were so quick and easy, that we've decided to do them as our neighbor gifts this year!
Thanks again to Good Things Utah for letting me join their fun group and for giving me the opportunity to be creative.
|Holiday Bread Wrap|
I love the time from Thanksgiving to New Years. It's full of traditions, festivities, decorations, favorite foods, and more. Yes it can be crazy hectic, but it's a happy hectic. I enjoy sitting at night with only the lights from the decorations on. Shopping for the perfect gifts is a fun challenge, especially being patient while standing in line and being nice even when people around you are grumpy. And so, today I'm thankful for the holidays and all the excitement, sparkle, love, and food that come with them. Happy Holidays!
I love snow. It coats the world in a blanket of white that is beautiful. I love watching the big, fluffy snowflakes fall. And there's nothing like a walk during a storm - everything is slightly muffled and oh so peaceful. At this time of year, the Christmas lights are an added bonus as they add color and sparkle to snowy rooftops.
I recognize I'm in the minority. I also admit that there are times when the drive to and from work are more challenging, but all the benefits of snow far outweigh the drawbacks. And so today, I'm grateful to have woken up to a world made white by a fresh snow fall.
Today I looked back on this past month's experience of writing down one thing I'm grateful for each day and wow, what a difference it has made on my outlook. It has not taken away the hard days or made life any easier, but it has made the way I look at things much more positive. Each day as I would reflect on my day to decide which thing I wanted to record as my gratitude item, it was a great reminder of all the many things I have to be grateful for. I am truly blessed and this daily reminder is exactly what I needed this month to get my perspective back on track.
I'm grateful to Jacki who shared this wonderful idea (I did see other people with the same or similar idea, but Jacki's post was the one that got me started). I hope to keep this going in some form since the effects were so worth it. But I have to confess - I'm great at starting things, but not as good at doing something consistently for a long time. So today, I'm thankful for gratitude and the positive effect recognizing it in your life can have.
Today was a day of being home. I slept in, took the dogs for a walk, and then pulled out my jewelry supplies and watched football while making jewelry. It was wonderful to be home with no set schedule doing something I enjoy. When life gets hectic, it's days like today that help me feel human again. I'm so very thankful for a home that I'm comfortable in, that I can enjoy and relax in, and be surrounded by those I love (people and hounds). Today, I'm thankful for time at home.
I didn't have to go to work today. Instead, I slept in, did a little shopping, worked on a couple of projects for next week, and hung out at home. It was lovely!! Everyone needs time away from work, no matter if you love your job or not. The change of pace is refreshing. The time doing what you want on your schedule is rejuvenating. I'm grateful for vacation time, especially when I know that I still have three more days at home :)
What a wonderful day! I love spending time with those I love, which includes family and friends. The stories shared around the dinner table bring laughter and tears, but mostly memories. I'm truly blessed to have two friends that are more like sisters than friends. They are always there for me through the good and the bad, the fun and the struggles. I would be lost without them.
And so today, I'm very, very thankful for those that share my daily life, for those that are my family (raised with and by, and adopted into or by later in life), and for friends that bless my life in so many ways. Thank you!
I know that I really shouldn't have them on yet, but I love them so - Christmas lights! I love sitting in the family room with just the Christmas lights on. They cast a beautiful soft glow on everything in the room. It's peaceful and beautiful and it makes me happy. If I had my way, we'd have them up until spring, but I guess this way they keep their special factor. So today, I'm thankful for a room full of Christmas lights. Ah, life is good!
|Lights and garland on the railing|
No matter if the weather is hot or cold, I'm thankful for covered parking that helps regulate the temperature in my car. But on snowy days like today when the wind is blowing hard, I'm especially grateful for a cover over my car so I don't have to endure the wind while I scrape the snow from the windshield. Thank you, thank you, thank you to the mall for providing this marvelous option.
I love cookbooks and looking at recipes (have cookbooks I've never made a recipe out of, but I sure enjoy flipping through the pages). The pictures are gorgeous and I love seeing what's in a recipe. I also really like cooking, especially baking but seldom do either because of travel and pure laziness when I'm home. But today I made a new recipe for meatloaf that I found on the Pioneer Woman's blog (she has great recipes and wonderful step by step instructions). The great thing about this recipe is that I put it together this morning and then the first person home popped it in the oven to bake. And might I say, it was delish!!! How could it not be? It had Parmesan cheese in it and bacon on top :)
This picture says it all - I'm thankful for new recipes and time to try them (and of course eat them too!).
On a snowy day like today there's nothing like flipping a switch for an instant fire. The flames are so mesmerizing and the immediate heat is absolutely delightful. The hounds love to curl up about 2 feet from the front of the fireplace - I can only stand there for a couple of minutes before I start to melt, so I'm not sure how they can lay there for as long as they do. So today, I'm thankful for the beauty and warmth provided by our gas fireplace.
We spent most of the day away from home and then once we got home started working on things and didn't really do much with the hounds. Needless to say, they followed us wherever we went - they were bored!! So I suggested a car ride, which immediately put Mabel into a tizzy, albeit a very cute tizzy that involves high-pitched barking and jumping up and down. Going for car rides with the hounds makes me happy because THEY are so happy. Mabel nuzzles me constantly, almost as if to thank me over and over. And so today I am thankful for car rides and the opportunity it gives me to bring pure joy to the hounds that give me unconditional love.
While I'm not opposed to other days of the week, I have a special spot in my heart for Fridays, especially Friday night. The work week is finished, Saturday is still in the planning stages, and there are a couple nights of TV to catch up on. I'm sure if we worked Tuesday through Saturday, I'd have similar feelings for Saturday, but right now, I'm thankful for Friday.
Here's a fun quote to start off the weekend. Enjoy!!
Weekends don't count unless you spend them doing something completely pointless. ~Bill Watterson
This week brought another opportunity to be part of Good Things Utah (thanks Rox!). They asked for home decor for Thanksgiving. I struggled with an idea for several days and then found something similar to what I created. I also remembered the Blessing Mix I made several years ago for Paper Crafts and thought it could be a fun addition.
So here's what I came up with: Give Thanks Shadowbox and Blessing Mix Placecards
I found the perfect paper from Imaginisce - fun and festive Thanksgiving designs. The shadowbox comes in three sizes at Walmart (I used the 8x8, but they had 12x12 and 11x17). Of course I couldn't find the original recipe I used for the Blessing Mix, but the Internet provided a variety of options, so I picked the one I liked the best and made a slight modification.
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. The Blessing Mix is a quick gift idea too, in case you don't need placecards at your dinner.
P.S. - please forgive the froggy voice. My souvenir cold interfered with my plans for the week :)
I love beautiful sunsets and Utah produces some incredible ones (especially when the haze settles in, which hasn't happened yet thank goodness). Tonight we happened to glance out the back window to find this.
|View from our back porch|
The colors were stunning!! I am so thankful to live in a place that provides daily reminders of God's creations in such vibrant colors. I'm thankful for sunsets.
I love our furniture! I can curl up in it, stretch out, lounge, or cuddle a pup. I love the comfort it provides. They're perfect for reading in, working on a laptop, or just hanging out. I'm thankful for a comfortable place to land when I get home.
Some days there's nothing better than coming home and just relaxing. The hounds are curled up sleeping and we're watching TV recorded from last night. I'm grateful for quiet, peace, and the comfort of home.
|Sweet Mabel all curled up!|
|Cleo asleep on her favorite blanket|
I admit - I'm addicted to TV! And when I travel I often don't see the TV shows that I follow. So today, I'm thankful for DVR so that I can catch up on the shows I missed or record things while I work on something else and then watch when I have more time. Isn't technology wonderful??!!
As I walked in the door today from my trip, I was met with the mouthwatering scent of roast beef cooking in the oven and I was so thankful to be home and even more so for the wonderful friends that took the time to prepare the wonderful meal. There's nothing better than a good home-cooked meal, especially after several days of eating in restaurants.
I'm thankful for a home filled with wonderful scents like the roast beef that greeted me today and the cinnamon rolls later in the evening :)
Today I'm just plain thankful! I have so much to be grateful for in my life and honestly, I don't have the energy to narrow it down :) But I know my life is truly blessed and I'm thankful for all that I have.
I am thankful for time to catch up with friends. There is something so wonderful about getting together with someone and feeling as if no time has passed - you pick up where you left off the last time. One of the big advantages of my job is all the friends I have and being able to see them when I travel to conventions. I enjoy seeing them and finding out what is new.
And so, today I am thankful for time to catch up with friends, whether the time apart has been long or short.
I am so grateful for those that serve or have served in the armed forces. I enjoy so many freedoms because of these wonderful people. One of these people is my little (okay, youngest) brother. He is a Marine and was recently promoted. I'm so proud of him!
I'm also thankful for the families that support our troops while they are away from home. I know it must be so hard to not know how they are, to feel like you are a single parent, and often to move time and time again. So thanks to the families too!
Today, I am so very thankful for veterans past, present, and future.
It's no secret, I love to sleep. And napping on a plane is a skill I have finessed. I know that for many, they cannot sleep on a plane and I truly feel bad for you. So today, I am thankful for the ability to fall asleep while rolling down the runway (if not earlier) and then waking up when we land. The flight goes so much faster this way!
I LOVE to read and when I travel I go through books pretty quickly. Since getting my Kindle, I am able to either buy the latest books or get free books. So needless to say, my book budget has decreased and I still have a way to escape each night before I go to sleep (which is what reading is for me, an escape). My Kindle also allows me to carry multiple books in case I want to switch stories or want a back up for when I finish my current book. So today, I'm thankful for my Kindle and the flexibility and enjoyment it gives me to meet my reading needs. Plus, I have the best cover - pics of my hounds! That way they're always with me :)
|Front of Kindle cover|
|Back of Kindle cover|
I love coming home! Whether it is from a day at work or a trip or just around the block, I find comfort in coming home. Sometimes it is filled with howling hounds and other times it is quiet. At times I think it can't possibly hold another person when it is filled with friends and family for special occasions. And then there are times when it's just me and the hounds, which is fine too, but I like it when we are all here, enjoying each others company. Home: a refuge, a place of comfort, where I can be myself, and where I'm surrounded by those I love and am loved by.
Plus, who wouldn't love coming home to this:
Today in one of my church meetings we discussed faith and character and how the two relate to each other and work together. As we read scriptures and shared experiences, I realized how many times my faith has carried me and how thankful I am for my knowledge of a Heavenly Father that loves me and has a plan for me. So even when I don't know what the plan is, I have faith that I am watched over. Life without this knowledge would be so difficult. And so I am thankful for my Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, and for how this knowledge gives me the faith to move forward each day doing what I know I should do.
Alarm clocks are a necessary evil if you want to keep your job :) So I thoroughly enjoy days when I can sleep until my eyes pop open on their own. No alarm days are heavenly and I'm oh so grateful for when they occur! And while tomorrow will be an alarm day, at least it is a fall back alarm day. Life is good!
After a long week at work, no one at our house was up for cooking and so I am grateful for take out pizza from Pier 49 (The Ghirardelli with Alfredo sauce instead of red sauce)! It was delightful, warm, and really hit the spot. So I am thankful for good food that no one at our house had to make - yeah for pizza!
Nature's colors - the deep purple of the iris, the velvety red rose, the brilliant orange, yellow, and reds of fall trees, the contrast of the pines next to the aspen trees on the mountains. It is stunning and amazing - so many colors. I'm grateful that I can see to appreciate these colors. I'm also grateful to live in a place that goes through all the seasons so that I can spend time appreciating all the varied colors.
Here's a picture of a tree down the street. Love these colors!
I have a 30 minute drive home (provided there are no traffic issues, which is not the case for the next two years, but that's another story) and I'm grateful for the time it gives me to unwind from the day and leave behind work so that when I get home I can enjoy the evening. There are even times I don't mind the traffic, because it gives me a few extra minutes to shake the day off and of course, sing to my heart's content. So while I wish some days that I lived closer, today I am grateful for the drive.
For those of you with a nasty commute (traffic issues), here's a quote from a co-worker that is fast becoming our mantra: "Suck it up and drive!"
Gotta have some humor about these things!
Dogs, and especially our hounds, are lovers. No matter what kind of day you had or they had, they welcome you with tail wagging that takes over their body. They're excited that you are home, they dance and bark and howl and just want to be near you and have their ears rubbed or belly stroked. They love you even though you just gave them a bath or cleaned their ears - so quick to forgive. Seeing their sweet faces melts my heart and brightens my day. Life would not be the same without them.
And so, I am ever so thankful for my tail-waggin', full of love hounds!
A friend posted on Facebook that she was starting her "Month of Gratitude" today and I thought she had a great idea, so here starts my month. The things I'm listing are in no particular order, just what comes to mind at that moment or during the day.
I am grateful for music. It makes me dance, cry, sing, smile, reflective, improves my mood, and oh so much more. It speaks to my heart, my inner dancer, and my soul. Music expresses my thoughts and feelings in words that I cannot find. It lifts my spirit. It communicates my love of God and my gratitude for all that he gives me. I love listening to music, but I love singing even more and I'm sure fellow commuters wonder about me as I drive by. Music completes me.
My favorite music - Christmas. My favorite song - O Holy Night by Josh Groban.
With Halloween this weekend it was no surprise that the Good Things Utah show asked me to create a Halloween Party for the segment I did for them. It was so fun! I played with Tim Holtz's embossing folders, acrylic banner pennants from Clear Scraps, and festive Halloween paper from The Paper Loft.
Here's a link to the segment and project instructions: Halloween Party Ideas
The great thing about this party is that it adapts well to any occasion just by swapping out the papers and embellishments.I think a banner for Christmas may be in the works soon!
I had so much fun creating these projects and am grateful to Good Things Utah for letting me be a part of their show. I love doing segments for them and the excuse to be creative. I have several other segments coming up in November and December, so I'll post those here as well.
Have a hauntingly good Halloween!
Here are the photos and instructions for making the Happy Halloweenie card. Enjoy!
Happy Halloweenie/Boo Poem stamp set (Stepping Stones Design)
Black Soot ink (Ranger Industries) (or black ink that is water resistant or set with embossing powder)
Watercolor pencils - tan, yellow, red, brown
Waterbrush or paint brush and water
Glossy Accents (Ranger Industries)
Cardstock - white, black, orange
Ribbon - black with white polka dots
Card size - 4 1/2 x 5 1/2
1. Stamp image with black ink on white cardstock.
2. Line edges of image with watercolor pencils.
|Close up of colored image.|
3. Use brush to create watercolor effect; paint along pencil line pulling color towards center or image to create a blended look. Let dry.
|Start with light colors moving to darker colors. Clean brush in between colors.|
|Even though this image is blurry, you can see how to pull the color to the center with the waterbrush|
|Notice how the bottom image is smudged looking? That's because I applied too much water and the ink I stamped the image with smeared. So either heat emboss your ink, use one that is water resistant, or don't apply too much water.|
4. Apply Glossy Accents to hotdog bun, mustard, and dog's tongue. Note: when applying Glossy Accents, start by outlining design and then fill in the middle. If bubbles appear, lightly blow or use a toothpick to pop them. Let dry (depending on how much you apply, it can take several minutes to a half hour to dry).
|Apply Glossy Accents by outlining and then filling in area.|
|The shiny spots are where the Glossy Accents were applied.|
5. Cut out stamped image.
|Don't worry about cutting it right on the line, just cut around the image.|
6. Make card base from white cardstock. Cut 4 1/2" x 5 1/2" piece from black cardstock for card front; adhere.
7. Cut 4" x 5 1/4" piece from orange cardstock.
8. Cut 2 1/2" x 4" piece from black cardstock; adhere to center of orange cardstock.
9. Tie ribbon in knot around orange cardstock; apply adhesive behind knot to help it stay in place.
10. Adhere orange cardstock to center of card front.
11. Adhere stamped image with foam square to card front.
12. Stamp "Happy Halloweenie" using black ink on inside of card.
Just like most things in life, if it is important enough or you want to do it bad enough, you probably need to schedule it or else it won't happen. that's the way creating is for me. I either need to schedule it or I need to take advantage of every little opportunity. And this weekend was a creative one for me.
It started with working on two projects at CK Scrap & Play in Provo on Friday night. I wasn't sure I was going to have time, but packed projects just in case. And is it worked out, I had time.
Today, I started working on my project for my next Good Things Utah segment. It's almost finished, but needs a few final touches and assembly.
But the project I had the most fun with were Halloween cards. I'm not one to usually send cards on this holiday, but when I saw this adorable stamp set from Skipping Stones Design, I knew I had to make them this year. I think this stamp spoke to me because we have a hotdog costume for the hounds and the stamp looks just like them!
Here's a picture of Mabel sporting the costume.
And here's the finished card.
It was a wonderfully, creative day! Also, I'm going to try and post instructions or photos showing the process for creating a project once a week. Recognize this may not always happen - especially since there are weeks I don't even write on my blog :) But, I'm going to give it a try.
Have a wonderful week!
The other day I was driving home from work and the song "Don't Blink" by Kenny Chesney came on. I've heard the song before but this time the words really hit me. I think because I feel like I blinked and the summer was gone (well it is gone). What happened? First Des Moines, then California, Virginia Beach (a quick trip), Charlotte, Tulsa, Virginia Beach (again, but longer), Cincinnati, and San Marcos. All between the middle of July to the third week of September. Now don't get me wrong, I like my job and I like to travel, but that many trips in a short time made the summer go by in a blink.
Since I've been home from San Marcos, I've been trying to do some of the things I've missed doing. My bedroom still isn't quite clean, but I did reorganize my craft room and I found I have a bunch of scrapbook and card kits (so I've started working on those).
Then today, I came home and discovered a set of stamps I ordered had arrived (from Skipping Stones Design), PLUS, the sweet person that owns the company included two additional stamp sets. I was ecstatic since one was a birthday set and I need a card for a friend. Oh the joy! I not only stamped, I pulled out my Copic markers (the ones that make me feel like an artist again) and created a card. It was so very fun and fulfilling. So here it is:
Of course I used my favorite color - purple. It's a pretty simple design, but it was quick.
I'm hoping this will jump start me back to doing the things I enjoy and keep me blogging as well, cause life is good!
So, I took a little break, but now I'm back.
Today, Mabel played with one of her favorite toys - a bottle. It doesn't matter what type of bottle - water, root beer, gatorade, etc. But if you are drinking from a bottle, she will bark at you and then stare until you hand over the empty bottle (she would gladly take the not empty bottle but we prefer to not have drink on our carpets). Once she has the coveted bottle, the challenge begins - taking the cap off. We have tried tightening the cap, leaving it lose, but not matter how it is attached, she can get the lid off. To prove my point, a few photos of the process. Enjoy!
Ahh, life with a Basset :)